Training and assessment

Regulatory requirements

Providing training and assessment using a distance delivery mode can create an innovative and industry-current space for learners to develop their skills and knowledge, particularly as technologies change to become cheaper and more easily accessible.

RTOs must assure themselves that any methods used to deliver by distance obtain the same quality outcomes for learners that would otherwise be achieved.

An RTO must be confident that its delivery and assessment practices produce job-ready graduates that align to training package requirements.

Providing training using distance delivery

When delivering by distance, RTOs must consider the particular requirements of the mode of delivery to ensure learning resources, facilities and equipment are sufficient and accessible.

Resources should be engaging for the learner. Content should be delivered in a variety of ways to encourage learners to absorb the knowledge and to take time to be able to practice skills. Variety also supports the different learning styles of learners.

Content previously delivered in an all-day classroom environment will probably not transfer well to a recorded video presentation of the same duration. However, RTOs can structure the same learning to include activities, online discussions between learners, additional reading and research, and (recorded) real-time webinars that engage learners with their peers.

Structure is important in distance learning, given that students hold the responsibility to progress through the VET course. Students should be encouraged to complete learning tasks and other ‘check points’ to ensure they are developing competencies and able to take part in assessments. Completion of these tasks also allows the trainer and assessor to check for comprehension and provide additional support where required.

As with all resources, content needs to be accurate and up to date and must meet the training package requirements. Where RTOs use self-developed content, they should regularly check that the content is still industry-current. Any links to external resources should also be monitored.

There are a number of technologies that can be used to provide training. These vary in cost (both initial outlay and maintenance), user skill requirements, accessibility and the time required to develop the resource. Examples include:

  • Learning Management Systems (LMS)
  • ‘Loaded’ iPads
  • Gamification
  • Augmented reality
  • Cloud technology
  • Video calls
  • Wearable technologies
  • Simulation tools
  • Social media
  • Online conferencing
  • Forums

In deciding what resource/s to use, RTOs should consider suitability for the VET course, the learner cohort and the RTO.

NCVER publications

The National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) has published a number of guides and a podcast on how to incorporate essential digital skills into VET delivery and upskill VET educators. Access these by clicking on the box below. 

Conducting assessment using distance delivery methods

In determining competency of a learner, your RTO must ensure that assessments address all assessment requirements of a unit of competency. This requirement is the same whether assessment is conducted face-to-face or by a distance or online delivery mode.

In some instances, assessment may not be able to be easily developed or conducted at a distance. Your RTO must consider the specific requirements of a unit of competency and develop an assessment system that aligns to these requirements.

Demonstrating practical skills

RTOs must ensure all performance evidence requirements are demonstrated, and do so in the context of any assessment conditions. The assessment conditions describe those mandatory conditions that must be in place during assessment, including any details of equipment and materials, contingencies, physical conditions, relationships with other people and timeframes.

RTOs need to consider how an assessor can gather valid, sufficient, authentic and current evidence of any practical skills and how they can retain evidence of that assessment for validation and record-keeping purposes.

Workplace observations

Some units of competency require assessment to be conducted in a workplace by observation. Where an assessor is unable to attend a workplace to conduct assessment, RTOs can give consideration to real-time observation via other mediums. For example, an RTO can:

  • use video recordings (from recording on a phone to more complex technologies)
  • use Skype and other video conferencing software.

If a student is working, assessors can view that student’s participation in activities remotely and, using the same observation checklists they have when on site, continue to make valid and sufficient judgements.

Using third parties to collect evidence of competency

In cases where the assessor cannot directly gather all the required evidence to support a competency judgement, the evidence may be able to be gathered or reported by other people (most commonly, a workplace supervisor).

ASQA has published a guide for RTOs on using other parties to collect assessment evidence.

Simulated workplaces

In some instances, assessment conditions allow for assessment normally conducted in the workplace to be carried out in a simulated environment. 

Whenever a simulated assessment is conducted it is essential that the environment reflects those typically found in the workplace to be as realistic as possible. Assessment must be conducted in the specified environment using the equipment and resources mandated in the Assessment Conditions field of the Assessment Requirements. Assessment activities must also be realistic and reasonable in terms of scale.

Where simulation is allowed, RTOs should review the specific training package requirements to determine if the learner can accurately replicate a simulated workplace environment from a remote location.

Real-time video-based assessment can be useful for role-play scenarios where students have to react, particularly in circumstances where assessment requirements specify the need for oral assessment.

Mandatory work placement

Mandatory work placement is a form of assessment in some qualifications and units of competency and requires a learner to complete a certain amount of time on the job before competency is determined. RTOs could record evidence of work placement using log books that are confirmed by a workplace supervisor. RTOs should maintain regular contact with any workplace supervisors to monitor student progress and maintain authenticity of assessment.

Trainer to student ratios

In determining the training to student ratios in remote delivery, RTOs need to consider the training product being delivered, the learner cohort and how the online delivery is being provided. In some instances, for example where students do not need to be online at the same time, trainers may be able to support a higher number of learners than would normally be in a classroom.

At all times, ensure that students remain supported and have sufficient access to their trainer to assist them in their learning.

Authenticity of assessment

Before determining competency, an assessor must be assured that the evidence gathered ‘belongs’ to the student being assessed and provides evidence of that person’s skills and knowledge. This can be particularly challenging if you deliver distance training, where there are more opportunities for students to submit the work of others than there are in a ‘traditional’ classroom setting.

Delivery by distance does not remove your RTO’s responsibility to verify the identity of a student enrolled in a face-to-face course.

Regardless of the delivery method, you must be able to demonstrate how you have verified the identity of the student.

Common complaints

The most common complaints relating to assessment that ASQA receives from learners who are undertaking distance or online learning are:

  • That online learning platforms are not adequate and do not allow for appropriate records to be retained. ASQA receives complaints that students have submitted assessments using the LMS, however the platform loses the record after being uploaded.
  • Students are told they can simulate an assessment at home using family or friends to role play. The student (and the role play participants) are not provided with sufficient instructions to guide how the role play should be structured or would be assessed in a manner that meets training package requirements.

Sector insights

See examples and insights into this area of distance learning, shared with ASQA by members of the Australian VET sector.

View insights from the sector

A student accessing a course online
Disclaimer: the following links are provided for reference purposes only. ASQA does not does not necessarily guarantee, approve, or endorse the information or products available on these sites.
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